Even Brendan Fraser could escape from this room…
Outside the room
A couple of months ago, I chanced upon a special offer that gave half price entry to The Escape Room Preston, so I couldn’t resist signing up to play two of their games over Christmas. First up was the Mummy, supposedly their easiest room, rated at 3 stars of difficulty (because what self respecting player would play a one or two star difficulty game?!).
There’s plenty of signage outside the venue, so you’re unlikely to miss it as you drive/walk past, and if you did happen to come by car then there’s plenty of parking round the side. It’s an old, building which doesn’t look anything special from the outside, but inside it’s clear they’ve really made an effort.
On first entry, you walk into a reception area. It’s big and airy, with plenty of glass to accentuate the feeling of space. The central atrium, which connects to all the games as well as the reception and waiting area, is huge, and surrounded by graffiti relating to each of the games. I really liked that fun urban feel to the decor, although I couldn’t help but feel that most London companies would have fitted a couple of escape rooms into that central atrium space! (Aside: there seemed to be additional construction work going on that made me wonder whether there might be more rooms opening here in the not too distant future).
The big disappointment was the toilets, which didn’t match up with the rest of the venue. The ladies was out of order, one of the gents was too, and the final working toilet had a badly broken seat. If you’re going to be trapped in a room for an hour, you need to have a working toilet to use, and with up to 25 people playing at once, that need is pretty desperate.
You’ve broken into Thutmosis’ tomb, a pharaoh who discovered the elixir of immortality (aside: I’m slightly dubious about anybody that claims to have discovered the elixir of immortality and also has a tomb, but I rolled with it). His tomb is filled with traps and hidden compartments to prevent wandering adventures from stealing his treasures. You’ve got an hour to get in, find his secrets and escape or perhaps you’ll find out why someone who found the elixir of life had need of a tomb…
Inside the room
Ah, the dreaded “make the room difficult by not lighting it properly” twist. I’m not an unreasonable person, and I don’t object to a bit of darkness but please don’t make me play the entire hour in a badly lit room. If you’re going to do that, then please at least give me a torch. In fairness, in this experience there was at least a good atmospheric reason for making it dark, which is better than some other rooms I’ve played where the darkness seemed to be somewhat arbitrary, but still…
I got over that soon enough and started looking round the room for clues. For the two of us there was enough to be going on with, but I’d worry, if you had five, that it would be pretty crowded, especially if you were an experienced team. That’s going to be a general issue in this room with a very linear set of puzzles. The saving grace is that several of the puzzles do lend themselves reasonably well to team work. Indeed, with two people one of the puzzles was definitely a bit frustrating and a third team member would have helped immensely. You do have to remember that this is the easiest room, so you can’t expect the puzzles to be too taxing, but I’d have liked to have seen some easyish parallelised puzzles right at the start to get people going.
Without a doubt though, the strength of the Escape Room lies in its theming. They’ve made a real effort to make the room, puzzle mechanics and the puzzles themselves lie within the Egyptian tomb theme. A lot of rooms are, well, just rooms, so it’s great that there are companies out there trying to make things a little more immersive. Telling people about a series of puzzles is a bit dry, but telling people about being in an Egyptian tomb is much more enthralling.
As always seems to be the case with dimly lit rooms, they decided to put a colour based puzzle in, which always frustrates me. Worse still, they went for the yellow light and blue/green code option which made things even more difficult. We got there in the end though. It’s worth saying that there were some areas of each room that were brightly lit, so generally, with a bit of effort, you could get round most of the lighting issues.
My final criticism was that the finale was underwhelming. They explained to us at the beginning that we’d hear a click when we completed the room and that would mean the door was unlocked. I’m no electronics expert, but if you can make a door unlock, I think you could probably trigger something else to make it obvious the game has completed (and maybe even stop the clock). As the person completing that puzzle, I was reasonably aware of what was going on, but Mrs Logic was none the wiser and was a bit confused about why the game was over.
We got out in under 29 minutes. I don’t really know the exact time because we assumed the host would tell us that when they arrived and after opening the door, we went back inside so that we could look at some of the puzzles in more detail. It turned out that the camera in the room had stopped working, so they had no idea what stage we were at, and clearly hadn’t expected us out so quickly. Eventually though, we wondered why the host hadn’t arrived, so went across to the reception to say hello…
We didn’t find out at the time, but when we came back later on, we were told that we’d actually got the record time for the room – not bad given it was just the two of us (although, if you read QMSM’s review, linked below, you’ll see that it’s still far slower than their effort).
Reviewing an escape room is always a difficult task – a game that was fun to play for two people might be wildly different if there were five. Similarly, a game that beginners enjoy might be boring for experienced players. The bottom line here is that we had fun playing this game. The puzzles, in keeping with the difficulty rating, weren’t numerous or tricky, but the theming was good, and critically, none of them felt unfair – no leaps of logic were required.
I’d recommend this game to beginners, to families with tweenagers and to experienced players who want to play a two player game. Be warned that you might make short work of the game though, so make sure you factor that in when you think about value for money.
We went round the corner to Tang‘s Chinese restaurant. On what was, effectively, a Bank Holiday Monday over the Christmas period, we didn’t have a huge amount of choice, so this was a pretty luck find. Great service and good food. We had a mixture of main courses and dim sum and would recommend either.
Don’t take my word for it
Check out QMSM‘s blog for a review of the same room in Manchester.
Detailed Room Ratings
I agree that the ending was disappointing as we were looking for something “authentic” in line with the theme in order to hear the click of the door. Apart from that it was an enjoyable room but far too easy especially for “seasoned pro’s”.